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Luke 13:6-9

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 12, 2016


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Regular:  2900 words    Communion: 2500 words  Video=75wpm

Luke was a doctor and a travelling companion of the apostle Paul.

He wrote this book while Paul was in prison.

In writing this book about Jesus, Luke made use of other older documents like the Gospel of Mark, as well as extensive eyewitness accounts.

This Thursday’s Truth Project is about “Anthropology”, or, the study of man.  Just what is man?

Video:  Truth Project Tour 3 Teaser

Jesus’ ministry is well under way, and the people have been amazed not just at the things He’s been teaching, but the things He’s been doing.

13:6-9 Fruitfulness

:6 He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.

fig treesuke – a fig tree

vineyardampelon – a vineyard

plantedphuteuo – to plant

fromphuo – probably originally, to "puff" or blow, i.e. to swell up; to beget, bring forth, produce; to be born, to spring up, to grow; to shoot forth, spring up

Perfect passive participle

seekingzeteo – to seek in order to find

fruitkarpos – fruit; that which originates or comes from something, an effect, result

:6 He also spoke this parable

parableparabole – a placing of one thing by the side of another, juxtaposition, as of ships in battle; a comparing, comparison of one thing with another, likeness, similitude; a parable: an earthly story with a heavenly meaning

A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.

It’s about speaking in metaphors with parts of the story carrying a deeper meaning.
Sometimes Jesus interprets a parable for us, other times He leaves it to us to figure out what He’s talking about.
I have learned over the years that there can be various layers to parables.
There is a layer of meaning.
We will see that there are going to be ways of applying this parable beyond the initial meaning.

Let’s read the whole parable …

(Luke 13:6–9 NKJV) —6 He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ 8 But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. 9 And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’ ”

Let’s start with the surface layer of meaning.

Who are the main players?
The land owner is God.
I think the “keeper” in our parable is Jesus, who has been taking care of God’s vineyard.
Both the fig tree and vineyard are pictures of Israel.

Both figs and grapes were common crops for the nation of Israel.

Isaiah spoke of the nation of Israel being God’s vineyard (Is. 5)

Jeremiah compared the nation to figs (Jer. 24).

I think Jesus is hinting at Israel when He taught:

(Matthew 24:32–33 NKJV) —32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!

I think Jesus was talking about the rebirth of the nation of Israel, and when it begins to put forth leaves after a leafless winter, you know summer is coming.

When Israel comes back to life, you know that Jesus is coming.

What’s the point of the parable?
During Jesus’ ministry on earth, God has been looking to see if there is any fruit coming from the nation of Israel.
What kind of fruit was God looking for?

John the Baptist said,

(Matthew 3:8 NKJV) Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,

Most of the nation had not shown any signs of true repentance.  They had no signs of a change in the direction of their lives.

While God is ready to cut down the nation, He is willing to give it a little more time.

There is also a subtle lesson about God’s patience in this parable.

It might look like God is itching to get rid of fruitless Israel, yet when it all played out, God waited an additional 40 years after the death of Jesus before the nation was scattered by the Romans.

Now let’s dig a little deeper…

This parable isn’t limited to the nation of Israel.
Remember from last week, that Jesus had been telling that people that they too would perish if they did not repent (Luke 13:5)

(Luke 13:5 NKJV) I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

Have you been living your life in rebellion against God?

God wants you to know that He sent His Son to die for you so you wouldn’t have to perish.

God wants you to turn your life around.

God is patient enough to give you a chance to repent, but He won’t wait forever.

:6 a fig tree planted in his vineyard

What’s a fig tree doing in a “vineyard”?

Was it proper to have a fig tree in a vineyard?

(Leviticus 19:19 NKJV) ‘You shall keep My statutes. You shall not let your livestock breed with another kind. You shall not sow your field with mixed seed. Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you.
(Deuteronomy 22:9 NKJV) “You shall not sow your vineyard with different kinds of seed, lest the yield of the seed which you have sown and the fruit of your vineyard be defiled.

:6 he came seeking fruit

Jesus would have another episode with a fig tree at the end of His ministry:

(Matthew 21:18–19 NKJV) —18 Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away.
Even though Jesus would use this episode to teach the disciples about faith and prayer, it is also a telling picture of our very parable, that God is looking for fruit from Israel.

God is looking for fruit.  Jesus said,

(John 15:8 NKJV) By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
God wants to see that you are really letting Him work in your life.

:7 Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’

the keeperampelourgos – a vinedresser

:7 for three years I have come seeking fruit

According to the Law of Moses (Num. 19:23-25), fruit from newly planted trees was not eaten for three years.  In the fourth year the fruit belonged to God and was given to Him.  In the fifth year the farmer could start using his crop.

(Leviticus 19:23–25 NKJV) —23 ‘When you come into the land, and have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as uncircumcised. Three years it shall be as uncircumcised to you. It shall not be eaten. 24 But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, a praise to the Lord. 25 And in the fifth year you may eat its fruit, that it may yield to you its increase: I am the Lord your God.
Our fig tree is not a young sapling.
If our farmer had followed the Law of Moses, then the tree has actually been planted for seven years, not just three.  The owner has come in years five, six, and seven looking for fruit.
In the parable, the nation of Israel was not just three years old.  It’s been around long enough to bear fruit.

It’s possible that this is also a clue that Jesus’ ministry at this time has now been active about three years.  God is looking for fruit from the nation of Israel.

:7 Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?

cut it downekkopto – to cut out, cut off; of a tree; metaph. to cut off occasion

use upkatargeo – to render idle, unemployed, inactivate, inoperative; to cause a person or thing to have no further efficiency; to deprive of force, influence, power

A smart grower isn’t going to let a fig tree take up space in his orchard when it isn’t producing any figs. A fig grower isn’t trying to produce fig leaves, he’s trying to produce fruit.

While the tree is still growing, it is taking up precious nutrients in the ground that could be going to plants or trees that ARE bearing fruit.

Jesus used the same idea when talking about grape vines.

(John 15:2a NKJV) Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away
We used to have a grape vine when we lived in Placentia.

I wanted to see how hard it was to grow grapes.

One of the things I learned is that part of grape vines can grow like crazy.

Some branches or shoots from the vine grow very, very quick, but they don’t produce any fruit, all they produce are lots of leaves.

I learned that these shoots are called “suckers”.

The “suckers” use up all the nutrients inside the vine just to produce branches and leaves, but don’t produce any fruit.

If you want to produce fruit, you need to trim the “suckers”.

:8 But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it.

:8 until I dig around it and fertilize it

I digskapto – to dig

Aorist active subjunctive


Two words are used here that our translators put together into the single word “fertilize”
fertilizeballo – to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls
Aorist active subjunctive
fertilizekopria – dung, manure.
Here, literally, “I throw dung on it”.

In Greek, “fertilize” is made up of two words, and could be translated, “until… I should throw manure on it”.  Does that paint a pretty picture for you?


Ingredients for growth

When we moved into our current house, there was a mysterious looking citrus tree in the backyard.
We didn’t know what kind of a tree it was because it never bore any fruit.
We did some work around the base of the tree so it would catch more water, put some fertilizer into the soil, and added a sprinkler head near the tree to make sure it was watered enough.
That’s all it needed.  It now bears lots of lemons.  Meyer Lemons.
What are the ingredients for me to grow as a Christian?
It’s like the sun.
It’s spending time in God’s presence, both talking to Him and listening to Him.
(Psalm 27:8 NKJV) When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
It’s like the water.
David wrote that the person who delights in God’s Word…
(Psalm 1:3 NKJV) He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.
It’s like the soil.
We need each other.  Kind of like a support group … kind of …

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Growth doesn’t come when you are separated from other believers, it comes in the context of being planted with other believers.
(Hebrews 10:24–25 NKJV) —24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
I look at trials as the “fertilizer”.

Fertilizer and strawberries

A farmer was driving along the road with a load of fertilizer. A child playing in front of his house saw him and called, “What are you hauling?” “Fertilizer,” the farmer replied. “What are you going to do with it?” asked the child. “Put it on strawberries,” answered the farmer. “You ought to live here,” the child advised him. “We put sugar and cream on ours!”

Some of us think that if we want a “happy” life, we must get rid of every difficult thing in our lives.  Yet it’s the difficulties that God uses to deepen our relationship with Him.

(James 1:2–4 NKJV) —2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

James is speaking of how we mature as believers.  It comes from how we respond to trials.

Do you want to grow?  Don’t run from your trials.  Ask God to mature you through them.

This was in the June 11 “Streams In The Desert” devotional talking about how we can see the fruit of “gentleness” produced in our lives.

“So few are willing to undergo the suffering out of which thorough gentleness comes. We must die before we are turned into gentleness, and crucifixion involves suffering; it is a real breaking and crushing of self, which wrings the heart and conquers the mind.

“There is a good deal of mere mental and logical sanctification nowadays, which is only a religious fiction. It consists of mentally putting one’s self on the altar, and then mentally saying the altar sanctifies the gift, and then logically concluding therefore one is sanctified; and such an one goes forth with a gay, flippant, theological prattle about the deep things of God.

“But the natural heartstrings have not been snapped, and the Adamic flint has not been ground to powder, and the bosom has not throbbed with the lonely, surging sighs of Gethsemane; and not having the real death marks of Calvary, there cannot be that soft, sweet, gentle, floating, victorious, overflowing, triumphant life that flows like a spring morning from an empty tomb.”

In other words, for God to produce real, true work in us, sometimes we have to be broken, and that requires trials.  Manure, not sugar and cream.
Sun, water, soil, and fertilizer.
How is your garden growing?

:9 And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’ ”

bearspoieo – to make; to do

:9 if it bears fruit, well


Fruit is the proof

The proof of whether or not God is working in something is the fruit that comes as a result.
This goes to the core of who we claim to be as Christians.
If you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, then there must be fruit, there must be change.

It doesn’t have to be something huge, but it has to be something real.

(Galatians 5:22–23 NKJV) —22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

You may not be perfect in these things, but are you seeing any of these being produced in your life?

A person who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ, yet never sees any change, any of this fruit in their life has a problem.

The problem is you may have fooled yourself.

Perhaps you have not truly trusted in Jesus.

This is true when it comes to ministry.  Has God called you to the ministry or not?

When Moses was leading the Israelites in the wilderness, a man named Korah (Num. 16) thought he could lead Israel just as good as Moses.

The real issue was about answering the question, “Who does God pick for ministry?”

There was a kind of showdown between Korah and his followers and Moses to find out who God wanted to use.  The result was that some of Korah’s followers were burned up by fire from heaven, while the rest were swallowed alive by the earth.

But God wasn’t finished making His point.

God then told each of the tribes of Israel to bring a staff with their tribe’s name on it and place it before the Ark of the Covenant.  The staff for the tribe of Levi had Aaron’s name on it.  It would be kind of like “drawing straws”.

God said

(Numbers 17:5 NKJV) And it shall be that the rod of the man whom I choose will blossom; thus I will rid Myself of the complaints of the children of Israel, which they make against you.”

The next morning, something amazing had happened to one of these twelve dead sticks.

(Numbers 17:8 NKJV) Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds.

I guess you could say that the person God picks is the one who is “nuts”, but almonds are the fruit of an almond tree.

When God is at work, there is fruit in the life of the person God is using.

If you feel that God has called you to be an evangelist, yet you never lead anybody to the Lord, it’s possible that you’ve missed your calling.

There is a sense that if God has called you to a particular ministry, you will have some measure of effectiveness in that ministry.

Sometimes the fruit isn’t what you might expect.  It’s not always about numbers.


He was in ministry for forty years, through the reigns of four kings. He had some hard things to say to the nation. Did the nation pay attention to him? It doesn’t seem so. Did he have lots of converts? We don’t know of any. Was he called of God? Absolutely.


He had the same type of ministry, but his was in Babylon.

From the outset, God warned Ezekiel that the people weren’t going to listen to him.  Yet he was to keep speaking for God.

(Ezekiel 2:5 NKJV) As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse—for they are a rebellious house—yet they will know that a prophet has been among them.

Neither Jeremiah nor Ezekiel had lots of converts. I imagine at the pastors’ conferences they were embarrassed when the other fellows asked them how big their church was.

Yet they bore fruit.  They spoke for God.  They told of things that would happen in the future, and they did.

God’s calling is proven by fruit.

:9 after that you can cut it down

cut it downekkopto – to cut out, cut off; of a tree; metaph. to cut off occasion


Calling it quits

There are some things that simply are a waste of our time.
They don’t “bear fruit” in our lives.

They may be good sounding things, they may be worthy goals, but they may not be right for us.

Learn to trim those “suckers”
Sometimes in churches, a program gets started and long after it ceases to be effective, the leadership is working as hard as they can to keep it going, often just because of sentimentality.
Years ago during the Jesus Movement, one of the big things God used in Southern California was the Saturday night Maranatha Concerts at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa.

Thousands of people came to Christ through the bands that played and the evangelists who spoke at the concerts.

Yet after about ten years, the concerts weren’t quite as effective.  There came a point when Pastor Chuck pulled the plug.

Did Calvary Chapel stop all evangelism? Not at all. Later God put it on Chuck’s heart to start the Harvest Crusades. Do you think that’s been effective? Absolutely.

For those of us involved in various ministries, it doesn’t hurt from time to time to step back from your ministry, look things over and ask God, “Do you still want me doing this?”

In our personal lives, the real question is, “Am I supposed to do this?”
You thought it was your “passion”, and was taught that you should go after your “passions”, but things don’t seem to be working out so well.
Here’s a video directed to graduates…

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There is a time to call it quits.


Limits to quitting

Don’t take this parable as a reason for quitting your marriage.
Don’t take this as an excuse for quitting life.
Even if God is calling you to “quit” on something, keep in mind that it isn’t necessarily forever.
In the main lesson of this parable, Israel is the fig tree.  Even though God allowed the nation of Israel to be “cut down”, it wouldn’t be forever.  God would one day restore the nation.

:8 let it alone this year also

let it aloneaphiemi – to send away; to bid going away or depart; to let go, let alone, let be; to let go, give up a debt, forgive, to remit; to leave, go way from one

Quitting is not always the answer.

Some things require time.



In three areas:
The Calvary Chapel movement is now about 50 years old.  Up until the last ten years or so, most of the Calvary Chapels that you might visit were being pastored by the same fellow who started the church.  Those of us who start a church from scratch are called “church planters”.
I’ve heard a common story among Calvary pastors who planted new churches. After a year or two with a small, struggling church, the pastor reaches a point where he wants to quit.

In 1982, Skip Heitzig headed off to Albuquerque to start a Bible Study and hopefully start a church.  I’ve heard the story of Skip calling Pastor Chuck after about a year and being so, and being so discouraged he thought he would call it quits. Chuck’s response was pretty standard over the years. “Perhaps you ought to just give it six more months” he would say.  Of course, today Calvary Chapel Albuquerque is a huge church with over 15,000 people attending each weekend.

Sometimes we reach a place in our lives or our ministry where we want to call it quits. And perhaps that is exactly what we ought to do. But sometimes what we need to do is to just give it a little more time.

Maybe break up the ground a bit.  Maybe add a little fertilizer.

In the parable, the farmer told the landlord to give it one more year.

The effort wasn’t open ended.  There would be an end to it.  But there was one last chance given.

Our friendly advice giving cat has some advice about friendships.  Don’t bother take notes…

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I’d have to say that one of the most important elements to a relationship is the patience you show each other.
We just celebrated our 38th Wedding Anniversary on Friday.
From what people tell me, I get the feeling that some of you look at our marriage as some sort of gold standard – what you wish your marriage would be.

We don’t see our marriage quite that way because we are aware of how hard it is to make marriage work.

A good marriage doesn’t happen overnight.

You must have lots of patience with your spouse – I know my wife does with me.

Early on in our relationship, God gave my wife this verse:

(Psalm 27:14 NKJV) Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!

God told her that she was going to need to wait on Him in order to be patient with me.

Your walk
Becoming a mature Christian does not happen overnight.

It takes lots of time, maybe a breaking up of the hard ground, and perhaps some fertilizer.

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You may be wondering when you’re ever going to get it together.

Keep learning.  Keep training.  Keep growing.

Trust Him
It’s possible that some of you have not yet turned your life over to Jesus.

Do you know why you, like that fig tree, have not yet been cut down?

Because God is being patient with you.

The Bible says,

(2 Peter 3:9b NIV) Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

I do have to warn you; God will not wait forever.  Let today be the day that you turn your life over to God.